My personal feeling of being a part of equine therapy is almost indescribable. The young learners adore the horses and show no fear. I am terribly proud to be a part of their experience. From the moment I walked onto this ranch I felt welcomed. So much so, that in fact, at times I forgot I was so far from home!
Remember I am in a country where I do not speak the language (well, I’m almost as articulate as a bright 2 year old now), but it doesn’t matter. When speaking about culture, there are so many other components along with articulating the language. Language only becomes a barrier when you begin to perceive it as one. In this particular case I have decided to give myself a break and look to other means of communication. For instance, a smile and a sense of humour go a long way! Plus I feel accepted in this situation. I knew that with time, I would learn what was necessary to communicate with spoken language through the children and other volunteers.
“People are more capable than they realize and it’s only when you are actually immersed in a new culture that you realize we are all humans only ever seeking a means of engaging with other humans.”
As I took part in one particular therapy, something struck me deeply. I was telling a young learner how well they were doing and I was giving them praise using my home language, and this was returned by miles-of-smiles! So, why was this? As I remembered my special education training, it came to me on reflection that it was a combination of my facial expression, body language and the clearly excited intonation of my voice. The learner understood I was giving them praise and they loved it! The origin of language in this case didn’t matter. What mattered was the kindness shared in an interaction between two humans during a rewarding experience.
I would honestly urge anyone who feels language would hold them back from taking a step towards the unknown in a travel experience, to forget about it! Don’t ever let language hold you back. People are more capable than they realize and it’s only when you are actually immersed in a new culture that you realize we are all humans only ever seeking a means of engaging with other humans. Actually, in the absence of verbal communication, remember there is an opportunity to engage on a deeper and more creative level. Body language, gesturing and facial expressions are innate to us all since birth and our first experiences and efforts in communication. More over, genuine openness and kindness really matters. Kindness is a language, and it is universal. Speak it as loud as you can.